74 THE GAY GENIUS
the capital as crown prince; he later became the emperor Shentsung,
under whose regime Wang Anshih came to power. While he was the
crown prince, Han Wei, a -great admirer of Wang Anshih, was his
secretary. Han would express certain views on government, and when-
ever the Crown Prince liked them, he would say: "This is not my own,
opinion, but that of Wang Anshih." The Crown Prince, therefore,
developed a very high opinion of Wang, and hoped one day he would
be able to utilise his great political talents. In 1067, as soon as he
ascended the throne at the age of twenty, he had Wang appointed
chief magistrate at Nanking, and in September again promoted him,
to the rank of a hanlin scholar. Wang was in constant communication
witli his friend and was convinced that now his opportunity had come..
Contrary to his previous practice, he accepted the post at once. But
he delayed coming to the capital for seven months.
"This Anshih has always declined an appointment and refused to
come to the capital in the previous reigns," said Emperor Shentsung.
"Some people thought he was impudent, and now again he does not
come, giving illness as his excuse. Is he really ill, or is he fishing for a
At this time there was great jealousy between two veteran officials,
Tseng Kungliang' and Han Chi. The latter had served successively
as premier and privy councillor under three emperors and was becom-
ing too powerful. In his endeavour to shake Han Chi's position, Tseng
Kungliang hoped to find in the person of Wang Anshih a powerf
ally for himself. He assured the Emperor that Wang had the tru
calibre of a prime minister and that His Majesty should believe h*
him. On the other hand, another high official, Wu Kuei, who had
known Wang Anshih intimately, warned the Emperor that if Wang
should ever be given power he would plunge the whole country into
Finally, in April, 1068, Wang Anshih, having been assured of the
Emperor's attitude, appeared at the capital and was ordered to go into
imperial audience with special permission to "speak out of rank"; i.e.,
without observance of protocol.
"What is the most important thing to do in a government?" asked
"To choose the right policy," answered Wang.
"What do you think of Emperor Taitsung of Tang?" asked the
Emperor again, referring to the most beloved emperor of that dynasty.
"Your Majesty should take the Emperors Yao and Shun, and not
merely Tang Taitsung, as your standard. The principles of Yao and
Shun are really very easy to put into practice. Because the scholars
of die lattef days do not really understand them, they think that the